Senator Mike Duffy was acquitted in a court of law. A judge even declared it was Stephen Harper's PMO that was really to blame. But now Mr. Duffy wants to be declared the real victim here, and collect about $8-million.
Let's just guess that most people in this country will find that too much to swallow.
The thought that Mr. Duffy, now back in the Senate, could receive millions for his troubles probably is not going to make Canadians warm to the ol' Duff again.
Imagine the queasy feeling around Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the thought of settling Mr. Duffy's lawsuit.
Mr. Trudeau just took a beating for paying $10-million to Omar Khadr. And while there is no similarity between Mr. Duffy and Mr. Khadr, or their legal claims, who wants to tell Canadians that more taxpayers' money is going to deeply unpopular figures? This lawsuit probably will not go anywhere for years.
In the meantime, it marks something like Mr. Duffy's return.
The truth is, Mr. Duffy really was victimized in some of the events he raises.
But it will not win him the sympathy he craves – to be seen as the real victim.
Mr. Duffy did not personally announce his lawsuit, leaving that to his lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon.
But his written statement told us not only that his rights were trampled, and that he and his family suffered stress and financial damage, but that there is a selfless goal in it all: "If this action succeeds in bringing Charter protections to all who work on Parliament Hill, this will be my greatest contribution to public life."
That might give a lot of Canadians pause, especially if they try to think of Mr. Duffy's second-greatest contribution as a senator. He spent much of his time with partisan Conservative fundraisers and profile-raising speaking engagements, as evidence at his trial showed.
His lawsuit is artful legal work, in places.
It seeks an eye-watering $6.5-million in "general damages" for stress, negative health effects and "continual mocking and satire in the media," suffered because of the Senate's decision to suspend Mr. Duffy, and the RCMP's "negligent" investigation.
It seeks unspecified damages for a breach of his Charter right to "life, liberty and security of the person," when Mr. Duffy was never jailed, physically threatened or, obviously, killed.
But there is not much doubt that Mr. Duffy was railroaded at times.
The judge in his criminal trial, Charles Vaillancourt, found the PMO pushed him to say he claimed expenses improperly as political damage control. Conservative senators rushed to suspend him, zealously whipped by the PMO, out of the same desire to kill the story.
But if he has a case for damages, they will probably be modest. It is a tough case to win.
He is suing the Senate for suspending him, among other things, but the Senate can probably claim parliamentary privilege to prevent the courts intervening. Let's hope he loses on that count – if he wins, the Senate might never again dare to sanction even the worst reprobate.
In any event, the public will probably never see him as the victim.
That is because all this started with Mr. Duffy, appointed as senator for PEI, claiming housing expenses and per diems while at home in Ottawa, where he had lived since 1971.
Justice Vaillancourt said that was no crime, but that does not mean Canadians will like it. Mr. Duffy might have been entitled to those expenses under Senate rules, but his legal pleadings still make it sound like he was required to pocket the money – when he was not. Mr. Duffy's lawsuit reads like it is still trying to persuade us he was always living in PEI except for the minor blip of those 38 years he had to be in Ottawa, "due to his employment." He still protests too much.
Yes, Justice Vaillancourt found Mr. Harper's operatives railroaded him. They suggested he might lose his Senate seat if he did not go along with their damage control. The risk was that if he stood up, he would lose his sinecure, a job for life with a pension that most Canadians could never dream of and that he used to partisan ends.
Yes, Mr. Duffy went through a hard time, but this was still a squabble between partisans over the entitlements of rarefied office. Canadians are not likely to see Mr. Duffy as the real victim, or feel they should foot more of the bill.